The day before the test against the Pumas in Nelson, with the mid-afternoon sun beating down at Trafalgar Park, All Blacks captain Kieran Read made the point that it wouldn't be an awful idea for the game to be kicking off at about the same time the following day.

The majority of the seats in Nelson were uncovered and highly exposed and the field, as Read spoke on the Friday, had zero moisture – each and every blade of grass standing pristine and proud awaiting inspection.

He was right – the test in Nelson was crying out to be played in the afternoon and not a single inhabitant of the city would have disagreed.


But of course since the game turned professional, fans in the Southern Hemisphere have had others decide what it is that they want.

Supporters in New Zealand are told what works for them rather than asked and being a stoic bunch, they go along with it rather than kick up a fuss.

There are no afternoon test matches because the almighty broadcasting fraternity says consumers don't want them.

Sky TV, despite its Hannibal Lecter billing, has been a truly heroic friend of rugby in this country, investing close to a billion dollars that has had a traceable impact on the All Blacks' success.

But Sky has a blind spot, and it is afternoon kick-offs. Sky is obsessed with this idea that it would be disastrous for viewing figures to kick off at any other time than the ingrained 7.35pm slot.

All their research tells them this is when New Zealanders want to be sitting down to watch the All Blacks.

Yet the truth about most market research is that it is kind of a giant waste of time and typically sets out to provide answers that those asking the questions want to hear.

General view at Nelson's Trafalgar Park. Photo / Photosport
General view at Nelson's Trafalgar Park. Photo / Photosport

Common sense is surely a more useful tool to deduce that New Zealanders love the All Blacks and if they played a test at 2.30pm, people would structure their day to be able to watch them.


After all, the All Blacks used to play in the afternoon, and people found a way to watch them. Then when kick-offs changed to the evening, people found a way to watch them.

Trust the product is the message surely? They do that in England and it works supremely well.

Test matches at Twickenham are played at 2.30pm. That's it – that's the time slot, like it or lump it.

And everyone likes it. It works – the stadium is always full, the TV audience always huge and there is no better rugby occasion than a test at Twickers.

The test experience in New Zealand, regardless of venue, is not the same joyous experience.

It is typically cold, always dark and half the crowd at least have killed the afternoon in the pub drinking more than they should have.

A tired attempt at a Mexican wave will break out after 20 minutes and by the time everyone staggers out at close to 10pm, there will be a few sleepy sorts who need an immediate lie down and a few others who need to prove that they could have been contenders.

It's not that much fun for those who just want to go to the football and see a good game, have a bite to eat and a few drinks with mates and be there for the All Blacks.

And this is the problem – for whom exactly do evening kick-offs appeal?

The players would gladly play in the afternoon. The test venues would see just as much money pour into their service economies by kicking off at 2.30pm as they would if the All Blacks started at 7.30pm.

It would just flow in different ways but would also come with a reduction in social carnage and goodness knows, an earlier kick-off would open the possibility of thousands more young kids watching the All Blacks.

So why the resistance to at least try it? Why not give the people what they want rather than continue to tell them that they should be grateful for what they get?

The All Blacks haven't played an afternoon test in New Zealand since John Eales won the Bledisloe Cup in Wellington 2000 with the last kick of the game.

The world has changed somewhat since then in every conceivable way and as rugby South of the Equator battles to retain its relevance and financial footing, playing at least one afternoon test a year hardly seems like a high risk radical experiment, but is instead a common sense ploy to win back some goodwill.